Where to Stay in Milan first time: 10 Best areas & safe neighborhoods

Wondering where to stay in Milan for the first time? In this post, I will help you to find the best areas and safe neighborhoods to stay in Milan for first-timers and the best places for all budgets.

Milan is the capital of the Lombardy region in northern Italy. It is known for its rich history, founded by the Celts and later conquered by the Romans. The city has been ruled by various powers, including the Visconti and Sforza families during the Renaissance period.

Milan is internationally recognized as a global fashion capital and is home to numerous high-end fashion brands and designers. It hosts the famous Milan Fashion Week.

The city is home to two of Italy’s most successful football clubs, A.C. Milan and Inter Milan. San Siro Stadium is a renowned football venue and has hosted many important matches and events.

It is well-connected both domestically and internationally through its airports and railway stations. It serves as a gateway to other parts of Italy and offers easy access to nearby cities like Venice, Florence, and the picturesque lakes of Como and Garda.

Where to Stay in Milan for the First time?

The best areas to stay in Milan for first-timers are Centro Storico, Brera, Navigli, Porta Nuova, Stazione Centrale, Citta Studi, Arco Della Pace, Porta Romana, San Lorenzo, and San Siro. These are safe and popular areas in the city that have plenty of things to do and see.

Centro Storico is the best overall base for not only first-timers but also for those seeking one night, two nights stay in MIlan due to its prime location. It offers convenient access to major attractions, excellent transportation connections, as well as many restaurants, bars, and shops.

It is recommended to spend at least 2 to 3 days in Milan to see famous attractions such as the Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, indulge in the city’s renowned culinary scene, visit world-class museums like the Pinacoteca di Brera, and take part in the vibrant nightlife.

Overview best neighborhoods in Milan for tourists

Here is an overview of recommended areas:

Centro StoricoBest overall area for first-timers due to its central location, easy access to public transportation, and and major attractions such as the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and La Scala. 
BreraKnown for its artistic ambiance, Brera is perfect for art enthusiasts, couples, families who want proximity to the historic center. It has numerous art galleries, small boutique shops, and charming streets. 
NavigliSituated along the picturesque canals, Navigli is famous for its vibrant nightlife, trendy bars, and restaurants. It’s an ideal location for young travelers and nightlife enthusiasts who enjoy the bustling atmosphere and socializing by the canals.
Porta Nuovaa modern district with futuristic skyscrapers, luxury boutiques, and upscale restaurants. It’s suitable for business travelers, fashion enthusiasts, and those who appreciate contemporary architecture.
Stazione Centralepractical base for those looking for convenient transportation connections. It’s suitable for travelers on a tight schedule.
Citta Studihome to several universities and has a vibrant student atmosphere. Città Studi is ideal for budget travelers who want to be close to educational institutions.
Arco Della PaceLocated near Parco Sempione, Arco Della Pace is a great option for families, as it provides easy access to the park and its recreational activities.
Porta Romanaa charming residential area, best suited for travelers who prefer a quieter atmosphere but still want to be within reach of the city center.
San Lorenzoresidential neighborhood known for its historic buildings and cozy atmosphere. It’s ideal for travelers seeking a local experience and a more tranquil stay.
San Sirois famous for its football stadium, which hosts matches for AC Milan and Inter Milan. It’s a great choice for football fans or those attending matches or events at the stadium. However, note that it’s located a bit further from the city center.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Milan for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map best areas to stay in Milan first time
Map best areas to stay in Milan first time

10 Best areas to Stay in Milan first time visitors

1. Centro Storico 

Centro Storico, also known as the historic center of Milan, is generally considered one of the best areas to stay in for first-time visitors to the city. It is the heart of Milan and offers a great mix of history, culture, and vibrant city life.

Staying in Centro Storico puts you within walking distance of many major sights, including  the iconic Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano), Palazzo Reale, Santa Maria delle Grazie, La Scala Opera House, Sforza Castle, and the Brera art gallery. 

Additionally, the area is well-connected by public transportation, with several metro stations and bus stops nearby, making it easy to explore other parts of Milan. Milano Centrale, the main train station, is easily accessible from this central location.

The area is also known for its beautiful architecture, charming narrow streets, and bustling squares. You can explore the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a stunning shopping arcade, and enjoy shopping at the high-end fashion boutiques in the Quadrilatero della Moda.

Centro Storico is also known for its vibrant dining and nightlife scene. You’ll find a wide range of restaurants, cafes, bars, and gelaterias where you can indulge in delicious Italian cuisine and experience the local lifestyle.

Overall, Centro Storico offers a great balance between convenience, cultural experiences, and a lively atmosphere, making it a popular choice for first-time visitors to Milan.

Best places to stay in Milan Centro Storico:

  • Luxury: Park Hyatt Milano, 5-star hotel, in the heart of the historic center, close to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the Cathedral, La Scala Theatre, and Duomo Metro stop.
  • Mid-range: ODSweet Duomo Milano Hotel, 4 star hotel, set in a prime location, within walking distance from Duomo Square and the Palazzo Reale. It has soundproofing rooms and a rooftop bar.
  • Budget: Aparthotel Dei Mercanti, centrally located close to Duomo Metro Station, with direct connections to the city’s transport hub, Milan Central Station.

2. Brera

Brera is a charming district located close to Piazza del Duomo and Castello Sforzesco. It is known for its artistic atmosphere, narrow cobblestone streets, and vibrant cultural scene.  

Brera has a long-standing reputation as an artistic hub. The Brera Academy of Fine Arts, one of Italy’s most prestigious art institutions, is located here. 

Additionally, it is also home to the famous Pinacoteca di Brera, an art gallery that showcases a collection of Italian Renaissance and Baroque art, including works by famous artists such as Caravaggio, Raphael, and Titian.

The neighborhood is characterized by narrow, picturesque streets lined with colorful buildings, small boutiques, art galleries, and cafés. Via Brera is the main street that runs through the area, offering a mix of art galleries, antique shops, and trendy boutiques.

You can find the Teatro alla Scala, one of the world’s most renowned opera houses. The neighborhood also hosts the Brera Observatory, an astronomical observatory, and the Botanical Garden of Brera, which is a tranquil green space.

Brera offers a wide range of dining options, including traditional trattorias, trendy restaurants,  and cozy cafés. You can find both local specialties and international cuisine in the area, making it a great place to enjoy a meal or relax with a coffee.

Brera is a haven for shoppers with numerous artisanal shops, boutique stores, and design studios. You can find a variety of goods, including fashion, jewelry, home decor, and artwork.

Overall, Brera offers a blend of history, art, culture, and gastronomy, making it a must-visit destination for visitors to Milan.

Best places to stay in Milan in Brera :

  • luxury: Mandarin Oriental, Milan, 5-star hotel, home to on-site restaurant, Seta, with 2 Michelin stars, serves Italian cuisine with a modern touch.
  • Mid-range: Hotel Milano Scala, 4-star hotel, located within easy walk from Cairoli Castello Metro and Santa Babila bus stop  to Linate Airport.
  • Budget: Brera Prestige B&B, budget-friendly guest house, located close to the Sforzesco Castle and from Lanza Metro Stop.  

Navigli is a charming and historic area located in the southwestern part of the city and is known for its picturesque canals and thriving nightlife scene.

The district takes its name from the Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese canals that run through the area. These canals were originally built in the 12th century for agricultural and transportation purposes and played a crucial role in the city’s development.

The banks of the canals are lined with charming promenades, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. You can take a leisurely stroll along the canals and enjoy the scenic views.

Navigli is renowned for its vibrant dining and nightlife scene. Along the canals, you’ll find numerous bars, restaurants, and cafes offering a wide range of cuisines. It’s a great place to enjoy an evening drink or sample traditional Italian dishes.

Navigli is home to a variety of boutiques, vintage stores, and unique shops, making it an excellent area for shopping enthusiasts. Additionally, the area hosts a popular antiques market called the Naviglio Grande Market, held on the last Sunday of every month.

While the main attraction of Navigli is its canals, there are also several historical sites to explore. One notable landmark is the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio, which dates back to the 4th century. It houses the Portinari Chapel, known for its exquisite frescoes.

Overall, Navigli is a great choice for those seeking a vibrant, lively atmosphere with a focus on nightlife, dining, and entertainment. 

Best places to stay in Milan in Navigli :


4. Porta Nuova

Porta Nuova is a modern and vibrant district located in the heart of Milan, north of Brera. It is known for its contemporary architecture, upscale shops, and excellent transportation connections. 

The district underwent a significant transformation in recent years, becoming a symbol of contemporary Milan. It features skyscrapers, residential complexes, commercial spaces, and public areas, all designed with a modern and sustainable approach.

Some notable landmarks in Porta Nuova include:

  • UniCredit Tower, one of the tallest buildings in Italy, serves as the headquarters of UniCredit, an Italian bank.
  • Bosco Verticale, an innovative architectural project consists of two residential towers covered with trees and plants, creating a vertical forest. It aims to improve air quality and biodiversity within the city.
  • Gae Aulenti Square, public square serves as a central meeting point in Porta Nuova.
  • Palazzo Lombardia, a distinctive skyscraper with a curved façade.
  • Indro Montanelli Garden, provides a respite from the bustling city atmosphere. 

Porta Nuova is well-connected to the rest of Milan through public transportation, with the Garibaldi train station serving as a major hub for local and regional train lines, as well as the metro system. 

The area around Porta Nuova offers excellent shopping opportunities. Corso Como, a renowned fashion and design street, featuring trendy boutiques and concept stores. 

Additionally, there are numerous restaurants, cafes, and bars in the area, providing a wide range of dining and nightlife options.

Best places to stay in Milan in Porta Nuova:


5. Stazione Centrale

Stazione Centrale, or Milan Central Station, is a major transportation hub in Milan and one of the busiest railway stations in Italy. It provides excellent connectivity with trains, buses, and the subway system, making it convenient for taking day trips to Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples, and Lake Como

The station building itself is an impressive architectural structure, featuring a mix of architectural styles, including Art Nouveau and Art Deco influences. It was designed by the architect Ulisse Stacchini and opened in 1931.

If you value easy access to public transportation, staying in this area can be advantageous. The area also has a wide range of amenities, including shops, restaurants, and hotels. It’s a bustling area with plenty of options for dining and shopping.

Just a few blocks away from the station, you’ll find Corso Buenos Aires, one of the longest shopping streets in Europe, lined with numerous boutiques, brand stores, and department stores. 

Stazione Centrale also offers easy access to La Scala Opera House, Duomo di Milano, and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in the historic center.

Like any major transportation hub, Stazione Centrale can be crowded and busy, particularly during peak hours. While it is generally safe, it’s important to be cautious and keep an eye on your belongings, as in any urban area.

The area provides a wide range of accommodation options, ranging from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. It is often cheaper compared to other parts of the city.

Overall, Stazione Centrale is a suitable area for those who prioritize convenience, excellent transportation links, and a vibrant atmosphere. It may be particularly appealing for travelers who plan to explore beyond Milan, as it offers easy access to other cities in Italy via train.

Best places to stay in Milan in Stazione Centrale:

  • luxury: Excelsior Hotel Gallia, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Milan, 5-star hotel located right opposite Central Station, offering easy access to other parts of the city.
  • Mid-range: Andreola Central Hotel, 4-star hotel close to Centrale Station, with direct connections with the Rho Fiera Exhibition and Fiera Milano City Exhibition Centres.
  • Budget: 43 Station Hotel, excellent 2-star hotel with modern rooms, great public transport connection around Milan by bus, metro and tram.

6. Citta Studi

Citta Studi, which translates to “City of Studies,” is a vibrant and lively district known for its academic atmosphere due to the presence of several universities and educational institutions.

Citta Studi is home to Politecnico di Milano, one of the leading technical universities in Italy. If you’re a student, staying in this area will provide easy access to the university and its resources.

Citta Studi offers a range of accommodation options, including student housing, budget hotels, and guesthouses. Compared to some other central areas of Milan, it can be relatively more affordable, making it suitable for budget-conscious travelers.

Citta Studi has a distinct local character and is less touristy compared to areas like the city center. By staying here, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the daily life of locals, visit neighborhood cafes, and explore local markets.

The area is well-connected to the rest of Milan through public transportation, including buses and the metro. You can easily reach the city center and other attractions within a short time, making it convenient for sightseeing.

It’s worth noting that Citta Studi is located slightly outside the city center, so if you prefer to be closer to major tourist attractions, you might want to consider Brera or Centro Storico. 

Best places to stay in Milan in Citta’ Studi:


7. Arco Della Pace

Arco della Pace is a popular neighborhood in Milan, located just a short walk from Brera district and Chinatown. takes its name from the Arch of Peace, which is a triumphal arch located at the entrance of Parco Sempione. 

The arch was built in the early 19th century and serves as a symbol of Milan’s history and peace. It is a popular landmark and a gathering place for locals and tourists.

The Arco della Pace is surrounded by a spacious square known as Piazza Sempione. This square is a popular gathering place for both locals and tourists, especially during the summer months when people gather there to relax, have picnics, or enjoy the sunshine.

Take a stroll along Corso Sempione, the main street that runs through the neighborhood. This bustling thoroughfare is lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants, offering a lively atmosphere.

There is also the Parco Sempione, a beautiful green space where you can relax, have a picnic, or enjoy a leisurely stroll. Inside the park, you’ll also find the Sforza Castle, a majestic fortress that houses several museums and art collections.

The area is well-connected to public transportation, with nearby tram and bus stops. Cadorna train station is within walking distance, providing access to both regional and national train lines. 

Best places to stay in Milan in Arco Della Pace:


8. Porta Romana

The Porta Romana area is known for its elegant architecture, beautiful gardens, and proximity to the city center. It’s a quieter neighborhood that offers a more residential feel while still being well-connected to other parts of the city.

Porta Romana is one of the ancient gates that used to be part of the medieval city walls. Located in the southern part of Milan’s city center, it marks the entrance to the city from the south and is located at the intersection of Corso di Porta Romana and Viale Montenero.

The gate dates back to Roman times and was originally built as one of the gates in the city walls that surrounded Mediolanum, the ancient Roman settlement that eventually became Milan. Over the centuries, the gate underwent various modifications and reconstructions.

The area surrounding Porta Romana is a vibrant residential district. It is known for its bustling streets, shops, cafes, and restaurants. Additionally, there are several notable attractions nearby, including the University of Milan’s main campus and the famous Bocconi University.

Porta Romana lies at the intersection of significant thoroughfares – Corso Lodi, Viale Montenero, and Corso di Porta Romana, forming the route towards the Duomo.

Porta Romana is easily accessible by public transportation. The Porta Romana metro station, served by the yellow line (M3), is located nearby.

Visiting Porta Romana provides an opportunity to explore a historical part of Milan’s past and experience the local atmosphere, the charm of the city’s architecture and culture.

Best places to stay in Milan in Porta Romana:


9. San Lorenzo

San Lorenzo is a small art neighborhood, located south of Duomo Cathedral. It is renowned for its lively atmosphere, unique shops, artistic venues, and trendy bars and restaurants.

One of the highlights of the area is the Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore, a beautiful church with a rich history. The basilica dates back to the 4th century and features a mix of architectural styles, including Romanesque and Gothic elements. 

The streets of San Lorenzo are filled with small boutiques, vintage stores, and artisan shops, making it a popular destination for shopping enthusiasts. You can find a diverse range of items, from clothing and accessories to home decor and antiques. 

San Lorenzo is dotted with art galleries, exhibition spaces, and street art murals. The neighborhood hosts various cultural festivals, concerts, and performances throughout the year, attracting a diverse crowd of artists, musicians, and art enthusiasts.

When it comes to dining and nightlife, San Lorenzo offers a wide array of options. The streets are lined with charming cafes, trendy bars, and cozy restaurants serving a variety of cuisines. 

Overall, San Lorenzo is a dynamic and eclectic neighborhood, combining history, art, shopping, and dining into a unique and enjoyable experience. It’s a must-visit destination for those looking to explore the cultural and creative side of the city.

Best places to stay in Milan in San Lorenzo:


10. San Siro

San Siro is a district known for the San Siro Stadium, which is home to the city’s two major football clubs, AC Milan and Inter Milan. 

San Siro is well-connected to public transportation, making it easy for tourists to explore other parts of the city, such as the Duomo Cathedral and Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper.

The area around San Siro features several green spaces, such as the Parco di Trenno and Parco Monte Stella. These parks offer opportunities for leisurely walks, picnics, and outdoor activities, providing a pleasant escape from the bustling city center.

San Siro is home to the large shopping center called Centro Commerciale Bonola, which offers a wide range of shops, boutiques, restaurants, and entertainment options.

Staying in San Siro provides visitors with a taste of the local Milanese lifestyle, as it is a predominantly residential area. It offers a more authentic experience, allowing tourists to immerse themselves in the daily life of the locals.

San Siro is located further away from the city center, and while it has good transport links, it may not provide the same level of convenience and accessibility to the main tourist attractions. 

However, if you’re primarily interested in attending football matches or exploring the San Siro Stadium and its associated museum, staying in the San Siro area could be a suitable choice.

Best places to stay in Milan in San Siro:


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In conclusion, Centro Storico, Brera, Navigli, Porta Nuova, Stazione Centrale, Citta Studi, San Lorenzo, and San Siro are the best places to stay in Milan for first-timers and tourists. You can choose one area that best aligns with your preferences for an unforgettable stay in Milan.

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Milan. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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